Fighting games are killing fighting games again

In the early 2000's fighting games died. The serious fighting game players had their 2 titles they adored: Marvel vs Capcom 2 and Street Fighter 3. Both very hard to pick up, a very very steep learning curve, but also very very rewarding for skilled players. And so they played with their gems for years. All by themselves, while everybody else abandoned fighting games.

Until 2009, when Street Fighter 4 revived the fighting game genre. While modernising a nearly dead genre it was also a throwback to earlier days, back to Street Fighter 2. Street Fighter 2 was the birth of the genre. It pitted fighters from around the globe against each other, with great visuals and a great soundtrack. But it wasn't the presentation that punched it's way into the hearts of every player, but the mechanics.

6 Buttons; 3 punches, 3 kicks with different strenghts and attributes. Light attacks were faster, but did less damage. Hard attacks were the opposite. That alone introduced a tactical element into fighting that wasn't present. On top of that the game featured special attacks that required more than simple button presses. But even without special attacks it was playable. And when you got better, you learned how to use special attacks and incorporated them into your gameplay. And thanks to a bug in SF2 linking attacks was possible and combos were born.

Those are the basics known to all and by now a staple of fighting games. But fighting games developed in the direction of longer combos, more mechanics. Hardcore fans would delve into combo possibilites and the different mechanics, but for everybody else it just got harder and harder to pick up a game and just have fun with it. When you fought against a more experienced player in SF2, you know what he was doing, well, somewhat. Atleast you could understand it. In Marvel vs Capcom 2 you got air juggled, DHCed, put into unblockables and you got a presentation of things you couldn't comprehend. What? He was doing wha? Wait..

And that's how fighting games have been for a long time. Until SF4 brought it back; everybody could pick it up and play it like SF2. They introduced new mechanics too, they added Ultras and the Focus Attack, but you could have fun playing against your buddies without them.

In total SF4 has, next to the original staple of mechanics, a super meter(that is mainly used to boost your special attacks by making them into EX attacks), Ultras(which pretty much replaced ultras and gave a rewarding cinematic) and the Focus Attack(that can be used to break through another player's block, while swallowing one hit/for more advanced players it's a way to cancel moves). That's around 3 mechanics on top of the different strenghts, a healthbar, high/low block and special attacks. When listed it sounds like a lot of mechanics, but easy to understand even for newcomers.

After successfully boosting new life into fighting games Capcom felt confident in giving the hardcore fighting game players what they wanted: Marvel vs Capcom 3.

You chose 3 characters who face off 1v1 against the enemies 3 characters. When one character gets KO'd, another one comes in. While waiting for their turn they can assist the point character with attacks. Instead of Street Fighter's timing based link system, attacks can be chained easily, which help the incredible long combos that are possible. You can also block and combo in the air. Next to your healthbar you have a supermeter and you tag another character in by doing 2 supers in succession. And there is more.

It's flashy, bright, colourful, it has the Marvel brand and it's famous superheroes and it has Capcom's own popular characters. But to Capcom's surprise it didn't sell very well.

Still on the high from SF4's success the SF4 team was allowed to bring the 2 most successful fighting game franchises together: Street Fighter and Tekken.

Capcom merged both games mechanics, adding to the basic formula a tag gameplay, in which every player choses 2 characters that face off 1v1, but if one character gets KO'd the round is over, and Tekken-like airjuggles are possible. And combos are now easier and can be extended a lot longer. On top of that they introduced Cross Assault, Cross Rush, Pandora-Mode, Gems(Boost, Assist), Super Charge, Switch Cancelling, Cross Art, rolling after wakeup and Launcher. For newcomers they made comboing easier with ABC combos, but they can't be cancelled into a normal special attack, only EX-Attacks or supers.

Street Fighter x Tekken didn't sell well either. The game that finally brought the 2 most successful fighting game franchises together was no success. Some people might blame the poor marketing(like the embarrassing nightmare of a reality show Cross Assault) and the locked away content(Capcom just now discovered DLC for themselves and don't know how to handle it). Both were handled awfully, but I don't think the poor sale results of both MvC3 and SFxT can be blamed on external factors. There are enough people who don't care about that, because it's a videogame. If people enjoy it, they buy it and external arguments will not stop them.

I think the same thing is killing fighting games that killed them 10 years ago. SF4 brought in a massive new group of followers, while MvC3 and SFxT is aimed at a much smaller group.

Incredible long combos and complicated mechanics are killing fighting games. There are people who enjoy both and that group has been catered to for years. But a fighting game that you can just pick up and that doesn't require a giant bulk of knowledge to enjoy, while also offering a depth for anyone willing to explore is incredibly rare. Infact so rare it's nearly non-existant.

A fighting game has to be rewarding for both beginners and experts. It has to be easy to get into and pull you in, so you want to improve. And every step should be rewarding. SF4 offered that. SFxT pretends to be easy for newcomers with ABC combos, but in the end it's counterproductive. It's important for beginners to have a hard kick that smashes in the face of the opponent. People shouldn't have to memorise a long succession of button inputs to do damage. They want raw damage with little effort. And I have to say, I like raw damage too! I enjoy predicting when someone might try to escape my Bison pressure and kick him in the face, when he tries to jump out. BAM! 10% of the healthbar is gone. By now I can do complicated combos too, but the excecution itself isn't satisfying. Outsmarting the opponent is.

SFxT isn't willing to give that reward. A hard kick does less than 10% damage and thanks to the tag nature of the game you have to do more than 1500 damage in the end it might just be 5% or less of the damage required to end the match. If a beginner plays against an experienced player in SF4 he will do 10% or even up to 20% with a hard attack or jump in sweep. The experienced player does a 15-25% combo. Ofcourse the experienced player is still in the advantage, because his combos are easier to place and his damage output is slightly higher(plus experience means a lot in fighting games). If a beginner plays against an experienced player in SFxT he will do 9% or even up to 18% with a hard attack, jump in sweep or an ABC combo. The experienced player does a 30-40% combo.

And I have the feeling like hardly anyone realises that. SFxT has a lot of problems that need to be adressed, but even if it becomes a game that gets the seal of approval by the Fighting Game Community, it still isn't a good game. The opinions I read are that people are either afraid it's made too easy for new players(what) and might give them comeback possiblities(like X-Factor or Ultra) or that it's too defensive(some people just want to hit buttons and hate blocking). Neither are the real problem.

Capcom redintroduced complicated fighting games with very steep learning curves, but this time they added ABC combos as a mean of accessibility. The only thing ABC combos are doing is to acustom new players with 3 button presses. They don't pull them in, they lock them out of the real game. And the steep curve remains.

If fighting games want to survive, we need more games like SF4. I'm not saying games like MvC3 shouldn't exist(they should), I'm saying fighting games cater to a small group, while ignoring a big portion of players. The most successful fighting game saleswise was Mortal Kombat 9. Not only nostalgia and violence helped it succeed, also simple mechanics. Everybody can play it. It doesn't offer the kind of depth that gives it the legs to stay alive in the FGC, but it does a lot of other things right(like a proper single player story mode).

Street Fighter 4 isn't the perfect fighting game. Like every game it has flaws. But it does things right that Capcom has done wrong since. It seems like they don't learn from their success. I just hope they learn from their mistakes. If Street Fighter 5 is introduced with ABC combos and Gems we will have to wait another 10 years until somebody realises that they should go back to scratch and go back to simplicity.

I have other gripes with fighting games, but this one seems the most obvious one everybody keeps missing in my opinion.

If a developer decides to make a simple fighting game, that also offers the depth for experienced players, good balance(SSF4AEv2012/KOF13 balance would be good enough) and a well made campaign that is more than intro movie, fights, end movie(the arcade experience), and maybe even a good tutorial, I will throw so much money at them. SO MUCH MONEY! But until then we are looking at another demise of fighting games.

16 Comments
21 Comments
Edited by Bravestar

In the early 2000's fighting games died. The serious fighting game players had their 2 titles they adored: Marvel vs Capcom 2 and Street Fighter 3. Both very hard to pick up, a very very steep learning curve, but also very very rewarding for skilled players. And so they played with their gems for years. All by themselves, while everybody else abandoned fighting games.

Until 2009, when Street Fighter 4 revived the fighting game genre. While modernising a nearly dead genre it was also a throwback to earlier days, back to Street Fighter 2. Street Fighter 2 was the birth of the genre. It pitted fighters from around the globe against each other, with great visuals and a great soundtrack. But it wasn't the presentation that punched it's way into the hearts of every player, but the mechanics.

6 Buttons; 3 punches, 3 kicks with different strenghts and attributes. Light attacks were faster, but did less damage. Hard attacks were the opposite. That alone introduced a tactical element into fighting that wasn't present. On top of that the game featured special attacks that required more than simple button presses. But even without special attacks it was playable. And when you got better, you learned how to use special attacks and incorporated them into your gameplay. And thanks to a bug in SF2 linking attacks was possible and combos were born.

Those are the basics known to all and by now a staple of fighting games. But fighting games developed in the direction of longer combos, more mechanics. Hardcore fans would delve into combo possibilites and the different mechanics, but for everybody else it just got harder and harder to pick up a game and just have fun with it. When you fought against a more experienced player in SF2, you know what he was doing, well, somewhat. Atleast you could understand it. In Marvel vs Capcom 2 you got air juggled, DHCed, put into unblockables and you got a presentation of things you couldn't comprehend. What? He was doing wha? Wait..

And that's how fighting games have been for a long time. Until SF4 brought it back; everybody could pick it up and play it like SF2. They introduced new mechanics too, they added Ultras and the Focus Attack, but you could have fun playing against your buddies without them.

In total SF4 has, next to the original staple of mechanics, a super meter(that is mainly used to boost your special attacks by making them into EX attacks), Ultras(which pretty much replaced ultras and gave a rewarding cinematic) and the Focus Attack(that can be used to break through another player's block, while swallowing one hit/for more advanced players it's a way to cancel moves). That's around 3 mechanics on top of the different strenghts, a healthbar, high/low block and special attacks. When listed it sounds like a lot of mechanics, but easy to understand even for newcomers.

After successfully boosting new life into fighting games Capcom felt confident in giving the hardcore fighting game players what they wanted: Marvel vs Capcom 3.

You chose 3 characters who face off 1v1 against the enemies 3 characters. When one character gets KO'd, another one comes in. While waiting for their turn they can assist the point character with attacks. Instead of Street Fighter's timing based link system, attacks can be chained easily, which help the incredible long combos that are possible. You can also block and combo in the air. Next to your healthbar you have a supermeter and you tag another character in by doing 2 supers in succession. And there is more.

It's flashy, bright, colourful, it has the Marvel brand and it's famous superheroes and it has Capcom's own popular characters. But to Capcom's surprise it didn't sell very well.

Still on the high from SF4's success the SF4 team was allowed to bring the 2 most successful fighting game franchises together: Street Fighter and Tekken.

Capcom merged both games mechanics, adding to the basic formula a tag gameplay, in which every player choses 2 characters that face off 1v1, but if one character gets KO'd the round is over, and Tekken-like airjuggles are possible. And combos are now easier and can be extended a lot longer. On top of that they introduced Cross Assault, Cross Rush, Pandora-Mode, Gems(Boost, Assist), Super Charge, Switch Cancelling, Cross Art, rolling after wakeup and Launcher. For newcomers they made comboing easier with ABC combos, but they can't be cancelled into a normal special attack, only EX-Attacks or supers.

Street Fighter x Tekken didn't sell well either. The game that finally brought the 2 most successful fighting game franchises together was no success. Some people might blame the poor marketing(like the embarrassing nightmare of a reality show Cross Assault) and the locked away content(Capcom just now discovered DLC for themselves and don't know how to handle it). Both were handled awfully, but I don't think the poor sale results of both MvC3 and SFxT can be blamed on external factors. There are enough people who don't care about that, because it's a videogame. If people enjoy it, they buy it and external arguments will not stop them.

I think the same thing is killing fighting games that killed them 10 years ago. SF4 brought in a massive new group of followers, while MvC3 and SFxT is aimed at a much smaller group.

Incredible long combos and complicated mechanics are killing fighting games. There are people who enjoy both and that group has been catered to for years. But a fighting game that you can just pick up and that doesn't require a giant bulk of knowledge to enjoy, while also offering a depth for anyone willing to explore is incredibly rare. Infact so rare it's nearly non-existant.

A fighting game has to be rewarding for both beginners and experts. It has to be easy to get into and pull you in, so you want to improve. And every step should be rewarding. SF4 offered that. SFxT pretends to be easy for newcomers with ABC combos, but in the end it's counterproductive. It's important for beginners to have a hard kick that smashes in the face of the opponent. People shouldn't have to memorise a long succession of button inputs to do damage. They want raw damage with little effort. And I have to say, I like raw damage too! I enjoy predicting when someone might try to escape my Bison pressure and kick him in the face, when he tries to jump out. BAM! 10% of the healthbar is gone. By now I can do complicated combos too, but the excecution itself isn't satisfying. Outsmarting the opponent is.

SFxT isn't willing to give that reward. A hard kick does less than 10% damage and thanks to the tag nature of the game you have to do more than 1500 damage in the end it might just be 5% or less of the damage required to end the match. If a beginner plays against an experienced player in SF4 he will do 10% or even up to 20% with a hard attack or jump in sweep. The experienced player does a 15-25% combo. Ofcourse the experienced player is still in the advantage, because his combos are easier to place and his damage output is slightly higher(plus experience means a lot in fighting games). If a beginner plays against an experienced player in SFxT he will do 9% or even up to 18% with a hard attack, jump in sweep or an ABC combo. The experienced player does a 30-40% combo.

And I have the feeling like hardly anyone realises that. SFxT has a lot of problems that need to be adressed, but even if it becomes a game that gets the seal of approval by the Fighting Game Community, it still isn't a good game. The opinions I read are that people are either afraid it's made too easy for new players(what) and might give them comeback possiblities(like X-Factor or Ultra) or that it's too defensive(some people just want to hit buttons and hate blocking). Neither are the real problem.

Capcom redintroduced complicated fighting games with very steep learning curves, but this time they added ABC combos as a mean of accessibility. The only thing ABC combos are doing is to acustom new players with 3 button presses. They don't pull them in, they lock them out of the real game. And the steep curve remains.

If fighting games want to survive, we need more games like SF4. I'm not saying games like MvC3 shouldn't exist(they should), I'm saying fighting games cater to a small group, while ignoring a big portion of players. The most successful fighting game saleswise was Mortal Kombat 9. Not only nostalgia and violence helped it succeed, also simple mechanics. Everybody can play it. It doesn't offer the kind of depth that gives it the legs to stay alive in the FGC, but it does a lot of other things right(like a proper single player story mode).

Street Fighter 4 isn't the perfect fighting game. Like every game it has flaws. But it does things right that Capcom has done wrong since. It seems like they don't learn from their success. I just hope they learn from their mistakes. If Street Fighter 5 is introduced with ABC combos and Gems we will have to wait another 10 years until somebody realises that they should go back to scratch and go back to simplicity.

I have other gripes with fighting games, but this one seems the most obvious one everybody keeps missing in my opinion.

If a developer decides to make a simple fighting game, that also offers the depth for experienced players, good balance(SSF4AEv2012/KOF13 balance would be good enough) and a well made campaign that is more than intro movie, fights, end movie(the arcade experience), and maybe even a good tutorial, I will throw so much money at them. SO MUCH MONEY! But until then we are looking at another demise of fighting games.

Edited by deerokus

As a fighting game scrub who still enjoys them, I agree with you. I loved SF4, and also last years' MK. I skipped SSFIV, but got SFxT the other day, enjoyed it in 3 player vs with some friends who are even less good than me at fighting games. Then I went online and it was like being mugged. By people with 90BP. I couldn't do anything at all, and was constantly being assailed by a blur of insane combos. With SF4 I was mediocre, but I could at least understand what was happening, what I was doing, what my opponent was doing and what I was doing wrong.

Seems like more of a learning mountain than a learning curve, and I can't really be bothered to put in the effort to find the fun. Capcom, you nailed it with SF4, why did you screw it up again? :<

Posted by Mesoian

::Sigh:: Naw. And here's why. Let's look at Marvel.

And before we go into this, let me preface by saying that, while I enjoy it and think it's fun to play, Marvel is a fucking TERRIBLE fighting game.

The fun thing about marvel, conceptually, is that you don't NEED those super long combos to win. It all depends on your playing style. Two players of the same skill using (for example) Morrigan, one using rushdown and one using Chris G mode (Super keep away fireball hell) have the same opportunities to get in on each other. Marvel is a game about opportunities. Hell, the super basic, noob friendly, abcd-->bbcd combos that everyone has do between 40 and 70% damage, depending on who you're using. If you watch someone using a super flashy 300 hit combo dante, you recognize that, after a while, this stupid long combo is no longer damaging you. It's fluff, it's showing off. His 327 hit combo does the same damage as his BnB. And, for the most part, that's okay. It allows advanced players to experiment and figure out how to stay flashy while never depriving newbies the abilities to work and win. On a conceptual level, Marvel is really good that way. No matter what tech you know, you can still get in and do damage.

Now I say that with the massive prerequisite because Marvel is FUCKING BROKEN, and capcom doesn't care enough to fix it.

Now to your point, and let's put SFxT off to the side, because that game is fucking garbage and shouldn't be played by anyone; let's look at the conundrum of skullgirls, because I think that serves your point a little better.

I have never seen an online community more savage than the people who are playing skullgirls competitively right now. Skullgirls is a fighting game player's playground, with dozens upon dozens of combo possibilities that are very easy to exploit. The more creative you are, the more damage you do, and the more domineering you can be. People have gotten around the controversial auto burst, allowing hundred hit combos that kill characters well before the combo ever needs to stop. Assists in that game are incredibly damaging, borderline broken, allowing a constant corner pindown by experienced players. I know people who fear Peacock x Double teams because, if they get hit once, they are not getting out of the corner by any means. And you can get around it, but it is HARD. EXTREMELY HARD. I haven't seen a scene so vicious since playing MK2 and SC2 in arcades. They are out there to hurt people (metaphorically of course).

But that doesn't really mean anything, because, really, it was always that way. Look at Marvel 2, it was the same stuff. That game was broken to the point where, if you wanted to be competitive, you were picking from a pool 6 characters. Look at SF2. High level play for that game has long combos, though granted, long in those days was like, 8 hits. But for the time, that was enough to stun people, lock them in their tracks, mind fuck them beyond ability. It's always been this way. We were just never exposed to it because, we couldn't find that scene. We had no internet play. We couldn't go up against justin wong in our living rooms on any given sunday. We just didn't know. When I was a kid, I would get DOMINATED in Marvel 2 arcade by my peers and couldn't understand what I was doing wrong. I know now, but...it was disheartening.

But that level will always exist, in any game format we decide to go to. I remember going to anime cons almost 10 years ago, and playing Naruto: Ultimate Ninja against people who had more access and time with the game and getting pounded into the ground, but I kept playing because it was fun and interesting. I got good, I figured out the tricks. I ascended those ranks that people need to ascend. And in the end, that's who fighting games are for. They are SOLELY for the people who want to learn every nook and cranny about every character because they love fighting games. I'm sorry to say, but we're really at a point where if you are looking to play a fighting game casually, you probably shouldn't go online at all. And I know how that sounds, it's discouraging. But the people who are online are the people who are looking to get better but have no scene. Marvel online is ABSYMAL, but people still play it so they can experiment, figure out characters, maybe get a basic gameplay going so that, when they do find someone local that's good, they can compete. It's not Fighting Games that are killing fighting games, it's the FGC that's cannibalizing anyone who is nostalgic for fighting games that's the problem. And there's literally nothing that can be done about that.

It all depends on what you want. Because hell, look at SSF4:AE. The high level stuff in that is crazy. Sure, you can jump in and jump kick --> SRK --> Ultra. But if you go online, you're going to come across that dude who will FADC you into a 80% combo. Everytime. It's just a higher tier of gameplay, and most developers don't cater to fledglings at all. They don't have to. The ones supporting their games are the ones who are being so savage.

And for the record, high level MK9 is just as savage as marvel. There's a reason why they had to nerf Kung Lao 5 times before he was allowed in tournaments again, and even then, he's still top tier.

Online
Edited by Jeust

I think you missed a big reason for why fighting games, specifically Capcom games are falling behind: launching a game, releasing tons of dlc, and one year and a half after releasing an updated version of the same game at 60% of the price of the original game at release and that can't be acessed otherway than buying the full package (no cheaper upgrade) is both really expensive and a dubious market practice. 
 
Also the quality of said fighting games are suffering from Capcom's policy of shortenning development time.

Posted by drac96

I was going to try and come up with an argument against what you were saying. However, I realized that you're basically right. The games after Street Fighter 4 have been aimed at a much smaller crowd, but I think that's going to continue to happen. Street Fighter 4 sold well, because it was a rebirth of a super popular arcade fighting game franchise. The same can be argued for Mortal Kombat 9. They sold like crazy, because they appealed to the people who used to like those franchises and the people who just want to play some fighting games.

Capcom and other fighting game developers can't revitalize an entire genre every year. They can't bring in people with nostalgia now that their franchises are releasing regularly again. It's hard, because they have to cater to everyone. They need to please the general audience to get their money, but they also need to cater to the hardcore fighting game fans in the "pro" scene who will crucify them if the game isn't deep enough.

Posted by DrJota

I can see a lot of what you're saying,but personally I think it's a problem that exists not only in the FGC but other genres as well:the communities in general.Often times they're far too insular,and as opposed to educating/schooling newcomers to improve,often times they try to keep the club under lock and key,available only to certain people who meet requirements,and to hell with the rest.What you see in MvC is the same thing that goes down in anything from MW3 to FIFA.Difference being it's a bit easier learning to point a scope at someone's face in a Team Deathmatch than how to wavedash setup a kill combo through training mode and trial and error.

Posted by GunslingerPanda

@Bravestar said:

It's important for beginners to have a hard kick that smashes in the face of the opponent. People shouldn't have to memorise a long succession of button inputs to do damage.

I dislike this. If they want to make a super-hardcore game, they should make that game, not pander to the people, like me, that can't be bothered with the learning and the mechanics.

Online
Posted by Casey25

If only there were a fighting game series that had great visuals, accessible mechanics, and smooth online play BUT also have rewarding depth to the mechanics and potential for competitive play.

Oh wait there is, it's called Dead or Alive.

DoA games have always had great graphics, simple and accessible controls, and quite a bit of depth to them. DoA 4's online lobby system is still pretty much the best, and was years ahead of all others (remember the hassle and limited options of Vanilla SF4?). It's perfect for casual players - no shoryuken motions, fadcs, or one frame links required - and there's still the usual mind games and high level play.

slight rant below, short attention spans may skip.

The problems with DoA as I see it are twofold:

1. People outside the community are ignorant, so all they know is it has boobies and mashing counters. I can tell you that mid level play has plenty of depth and variety, and that mashing a shoryuken is much easier and successful than mashing one of the 4 types of counters constantly. As far as boobies go, yup, women in any fighting game have boobies. Personally i'm more upset at Chun Li's insanely large thighs, but that's just me.

2. People inside the community dont support the game like they should. They seem mostly reclusive, and there's no local tournament scene anywhere, largely because the people who do play are content with playing online. There's also been some sketchy behind the scenes stuff around tournaments in the past. DoA 4 came about pre SF4, before the recent boom, i should add, and withered away pretty quickly.

DoA 5 has such potential, I just wish it could pick up some steam because with the core gameplay and online it can be a great game for casuals and competitive folks alike.

Edited by SpudBug

It's my opinion that all this begging for deeper tutorials and training modes from people who probably play these games for 5-10 hours and then sell or forget about them is foolish.

Fighting games are always destined to be a niche genre - the reflexes and depth of knowledge required are something that are inherently not for everybody. If these games ever get as easy to pick up and play as a modern warfare match, the genre is well and truly dead. The reason games like DotA and Starcraft are so much more popular is because they have a depth of strategy similar to fighting games but without the execution or reaction time requirement. Those are what both define fighting games and make them inaccessible to most players.

Heck, Virtua Fighter 4 and 5 had THE most in-depth tutorials of any game ever - does anybody outside of japan play those games?

Also Dead or Alive is a very shallow game and has a bad rap with good reason - many of its iterations have been almost broken in their mechanics or very unbalanced. Tekken has been embraced by the competitive community for good reason.

Edited by JasonR86

I doubt fighting games are dying out again. The Capcom games continue to sell and MK 9 has been a huge hit. I'm sort of weird when it comes to fighting games. I really like MK 9 but I haven't really been swept up by it like I was expecting. The last fighting game that really did that was Virtua Fighter 5. I don't know what it is about those games but I love the VF fighting system. It's so defense heavy and focuses more on control and technique then mashing the right buttons to get the right effect. It's a slower paced game that I really enjoy. Most fighting games that I've played recently aren't made that way.

@SpudBug said:

Heck, Virtua Fighter 4 and 5 had THE most in-depth tutorials of any game ever - does anybody outside of japan play those games?

Yeah, me.

Posted by Bravestar

first of all thanks everybody for reading my super long post!

@Mesoian: Skullgirls also caters to the small group of hardcore players. And yes, high level SF2 is actually very different from what we remember of SF2. Actually SF2 is very different from what we remember from our childhood for that matter. But that was the beauty of SF4: making us feel like it's like SF2, when it was more like what we thought SF2 was and not what SF2 actually was. But that is beside the point. What you are saying is that it doesn't matter if games are more approachable, because there are people who are super serious about it and kick your butt anyway, no matter what, right?

I think that's a rather bleak way to look at games. And I don't think it really negates my point of having more fighting games everybody can pick up and play right away. Ofcourse there will be people who take it beyond our skill levels and it's impossible to level the playing field. But it's possible to make the playing field atleast comprehensible, when there are less mechanics and people don't have to go into a trial mode to learn the most basic part of the game. You are right in that developers don't have to cater to that crowd, but they should. I'll make up some numbers: let's say 10 people buy a game, but only 5 of them know what to do. When the game is both simple and deep at the same time all 10 will be happy and buy the next release. If only the 5 people who know what to do are happy, it will sell less than 10. Same if it doesn't satisfy them.

@DrJota: as someone who tried to get into MOBAs, yeah. Hardcore communities are always kinda terrible, in any game. I don't know how much it affects the salenumbers though.

@GunslingerPanda: but that is all they do. I think there should be super-hardcore games too, but it's pretty much all there is. Which is exactly the problem.

@rebgav: My point was more about the mechanics, making them simple enough for everybody to understand. For example I was told that if you wanted to learn to play Tekken properly, you would have to start playing Tekken 2 and work your way up. That is insane.

But they would totally benefit from tiered lobbies and better tutorials. Those are also things fighting games should improve on. It's weird to me how fighting games are sometimes treated like it's own entity, when it's a videogame after all and it should strive to get better overall in every aspect. Those are weaknesses of fighting games that should be adressed and not ignored, even if many people feel like all fighting games should be hardcore-only games(same thing in other genres).

Posted by loldetaerleo

@Bravestar:

Whoever told you that you need to play Tekken 2 and up to get the mechanics is a fucking retard.

SFxTekken might be dense in the beginning but it aint a hard game to pick up. Everything is easy as shit in that game.

Comparing the learning curves of MvC3 and xTekken to McV2 and 3rd strike is insane. I think the reason capcoms fighting games are selling less is because they are putting out a billion of them. Most of them not really new games either. The Tekken series has consistently sold well over the years and that game doesn't explain shit to newcomers (they can mash and have fun against eachother I suppose) it's still a mechanically dense game. Each version of Tekken is however spaced out over a span of years and is often accompanied by a big leap visually. Now the core of the gameplay mostly stays the same, but when you wan't to attract the average player it's more important that the game looks like a big leap into the future rather than it playing very differently.

This is something that the Tekken series has always done right and it makes sure that the game isn't forced to "evolve" it's gameplay to attract sales. It's in a sweet spot where it sells to new people and the competitive crowd gets a naturally evolving game.

Posted by Mesoian

@Bravestar said:

first of all thanks everybody for reading my super long post!

@Mesoian: Skullgirls also caters to the small group of hardcore players. And yes, high level SF2 is actually very different from what we remember of SF2. Actually SF2 is very different from what we remember from our childhood for that matter. But that was the beauty of SF4: making us feel like it's like SF2, when it was more like what we thought SF2 was and not what SF2 actually was. But that is beside the point. What you are saying is that it doesn't matter if games are more approachable, because there are people who are super serious about it and kick your butt anyway, no matter what, right?

I think that's a rather bleak way to look at games. And I don't think it really negates my point of having more fighting games everybody can pick up and play right away. Ofcourse there will be people who take it beyond our skill levels and it's impossible to level the playing field. But it's possible to make the playing field atleast comprehensible, when there are less mechanics and people don't have to go into a trial mode to learn the most basic part of the game. You are right in that developers don't have to cater to that crowd, but they should. I'll make up some numbers: let's say 10 people buy a game, but only 5 of them know what to do. When the game is both simple and deep at the same time all 10 will be happy and buy the next release. If only the 5 people who know what to do are happy, it will sell less than 10. Same if it doesn't satisfy them.

Well, in a sense, yes. See here's the deal, you're totally right about SF4 reminding people who were nostalgic about SF2 about that feeling of what it was like to play all those years ago. But that feeling only lasts so long. After that month grace period, if you were still playing that game, you weren't playing it anything like SF2, it had become a brand new animal. It's similar to the ideals of SF3 trying to remind people of the SFAlpha days. That window dressing, that transitional period can only last but a while before people figure out the differences and the only style no longer applies. Now that doesn't really have much to do with accessibility. SF4, like SF2, is a 6 button fighter. For the uninitiated, that's intimidating as hell. You can make the argument that the only reason some fighting games are still using that scheme is due to paying homage to the old school. But that control scheme does nothing for new players or "bad" players, if anything, it makes it a higher barrier of entry, and those people will be devoured by the FGC. Honestly, I really do like what Marvel 3 did with it's controls, simplifying it down so people learning the ropes would have tools to use while still allowing creative players to link things together and create "custom" combos (custom in quotes because the sad reality is, there are only about 3 viable combos for each character in Marvel). So when you ask me if it doesn't matter if games are more approachable because the FGC is the one carrying the name of the franchise, I say yes. It's similar to the old ghost recon games, how new players would get EVISCERATED when trying to play online unless they were totally into that style of gameplay, it was casuals need not apply. Eventually those games changed to become more accessible, and that scene left ghost recon. And eventually people made games specifically tailored for that scene, which is where your ARMA's and your Red Orchestras and your what-have-yous are today, and it's why Ghost Recon, the newer ones, have this massive identity crisis of what they want to be. It feels like half the people at ubisoft want it to be a COD style shooter while the other half want to hold fast to it's roots, development spirals out of control and you get games being delayed for 4 years or out right cancelled. SFxT and Skullgirls is similar. SFxT is actually extremely pandering to new players, most combos in that game are no more than 7 or 8 hits and do very low damage, allowing for a lot of mistakes to be made and experimentation to take place. Problem is, most of the super long combos were never intended, Capcom just never playtested the game and, surprise surprise, they rendered 80% of the cast useless because the other 20% are so strong. Just like they did with Marvel 3, just like they did with Marvel 2.

As for your last point, that doesn't really apply, does it? Look at Halo, the scene for that is still healthy and savage, to the point where even if you know how to shoot, how to throw gernades, how to armor lock properly, you're still going to get worked everytime. But those games still sell, they sell on the name, the legacy, and mostly they sell because there's a mode that everyone can cut their teeth on and figure out how to play. Now I totally agree with you that more games should have things like, well, what mortal kombat 9 had. IMO, MK9 is the de-facto standard for what the offline situation for a fighting game should be. Robust story mode, robust trial modes, tons of stuff to unlock that don't get in the way of the gameplay (skins, not characters, pointing firmly at your capcom), so when you did decide that going online was a good idea, you at least know the basics before you got completely worked over. I also think all fighting games at this point need a combination of Skullgirl's trial mode, which explains basic fighting game ideals, and Virtua Fighter 5's training mode, which seems to be exactly what Jeff is talking about everytime he speaks about how fighting games don't teach you why you should do certain things in certain situations. of course, i'm not expecting to see all of that stuff, but it definitely should be there.

But Marvel (vanilla anyway) sold well, SFxT (defying the odds) sold well, Skullgirls sold well, I think we can expect Persona 4A and Guilty Gear XXXBLA to sell reasonably well. Fighting games aren't dying yet, no matter what the developers of said games are doing to push them back into an early grave (gems, day one dlc, online passes, multiple expensive disc versions instead of patches and updates, etc etc etc). The scene is still strong, and people like talking about these games. I know exactly why Marvel is terrible, but I still enjoy playing it and I love watching it at a high level. I just wish the competition in the sales ring would urge more companies to make more robust meaningful changes to their games. SFxT has a boatload of modes, but the grand majority of them are useless for both new and old players.

I dunno, we'll see what happens when Skullgirls' first DLC comes out. I hoping there are some important fixes for that game.

Online
Posted by Otacon

It won't be long until we see SFV.

Posted by ninnanuam

Ive been messing around with SSIVAE and SFXT and SCV in single player and online recently and I think my primary issue with all of those games (especially SCV, mainly due to the abundance of extras in previous games) is that the single player portions are totally shallow, offer no replayability and provide little help to the player in transitioning to online play. without any of these, the games don't end up being worth full price and customers will quickly stop buying these products. I know i'm not picking up another bare bones fighter.

Essentially I think a fighting game needs to have either a very robust suite of single player modes a la MK9 or SC 2 or SC3 (does anyone remember that RPG shit, i put like 20 hours into that.) so customers who have no interest in being destroyed online can still get some value out of their products. Or have comprehensive and FUN (emphasis on the fun) training modes and better AI which simulates actual online conditions.

Better matchmaking and less lag would also be awesome.

Posted by believer258

There are some long fucking posts in this thread. Why can't we garner this much discussion in other genres?

Online
Posted by Bravestar

@rebgav: I agree that the information given ingame are poor at best, but I disagree about amount of mechanics = depth. SF3 comes to mind.

I wish I had the time to write long answers to some people, but the one point I see several times, a point I haven't really paid attention to, is the offline/singleplayer content. And it makes sense that a market oversaturates alot faster when it is selling the same 5 hour experience for some people. Buying another game like that is unnecessary, because it offers the same experience. Other people might get 500 hours out of the game, but if we want to have more AAA quality fighting games it has to offer more. Thanks for bringing that up.

I skyped with a friend(who doesn't really play fighting games) earlier and he was playing through the arcade mode of SSF4. He asked me why Ibuki had to fight against Hakan, when she was searching for a boyfriend. It was very amusing to me(I just need a training mode to be happy), but he's right. An opening cinematic, random fights, a rival battle and an ending isn't a story. It's not even an incentive to play(he ended up quitting on Seth and watching the ending on youtube). It's not what people expect from a videogame nowadays. It's something from 1992. And I just realised how crazy it is that, while the technical and mechanical aspects of the game moved on, alot of fighting games are still stuck in 1992. It's like a shooter giving you a page of text like Quake did.

I think the Asura's Wrath' guys should be hired for Capcom's next fighting game storymode. :D

Anyway, I wish I had more time. A lot of good points, thanks guys.

Edited by SexualBubblegumX

Honestly Super Street Fighter 4 was when Capcom started saying "Fuck You" to casuals again. Arcade edition was half hearted aplogy though. But yeah, uhm Capcom is kind of stupid , people have known it for a while.

Posted by Catarrhal

@SpudBug said:

Heck, Virtua Fighter 4 and 5 had THE most in-depth tutorials of any game ever - does anybody outside of japan play those games?

To be precise, it was Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution that introduced the world's most kick-ass training mode. Virtua Fighter 5 didn't really have a training mode, but apparently they're bringing it back in next month's Final Showdown.